Sixth sense of a chef!! (Stir fried soya chunks)

soya-2Sight, aroma, taste, feel and sound all contribute to the eating experience — we smell food before we see or taste it, and sometimes we even hear it being cooked, these ignites our senses.

We cook with our senses, and we have six of them, all of them critical, the sixth most of all. Taste is the common mantra among chefs: “Always be tasty to the buds.” Enough richness, enough depth, enough seasoning, and enough acidity these all factors we need to consider. We need to tune it like a guitar!!

But often overlooked as a fundamental cooking sense is hearing. For an example, throw chopped garlic into a hot oil pan, your sense of hearing triggers and your sense of smell can tell you when it has infused in the oil, smells garlicky and it’s time to follow the other ingredients. But more important is imagined sight. What you expect to see should be a part of the cooking process. Touch is essential, a sense to call attention. We touch bread dough to know how thick it is. We press down on steak to intuit how done it is on the inside (will be posting in my next post in detail). We touch the top of fish to know how well it is done.


Cooking brings all the senses in to our play ground of kitchen:

  • Sight in the recognition of commodities and the eye appeal in the presentation of dishes.
  • Smell in the freshness of food and identifying the various cooking smells.
  • Taste an important field and one allied to smell, testing for flavour and the use of seasoning agents.
  • Touch, the use of hands in sampling or testing of food for freshness, texture and other factors.
  • Hearing in communications and listening to food being cooked, recognition if the food in cooking too fast or slow.
  • Kinaesthesia is the sixth sense. A general term involving the co-ordination of sense in performing a task. The know and the recognition on an unconscious level, this being achieved by proficiency. Cookery brings all the senses into play. Most chefs have highly developed senses particularly of smell, tastes and touch with in a built- in sixth sense,that of Kinaesthesia.

All of these five senses — taste, touch, hearing, sight, and smell — lead to the most important sense of all. But the sixth sense: bit more on explanation is common sense!!  This cannot be written into a recipe. You can’t Google the common sense for a recipe!! But it’s critical in good cooking and often lacking in the home kitchen.

This is what missing in my sweet heart Sibil while cooking at home. A five minute job will be dragged to a five hour marathon. (Soon I can get ready my second tent in my garden – From my old post “A home alone recipe!!“)

soya-4Our world is better when we cook for the people we love. Our bodies are healthier, our families are healthier, our communities are healthier, and our environment is healthier. That’s the sense I love most about cooking.

 Stir fried soya chunks

soya-3Soya chunks are a defatted soy flour product, a by-product of extracting soybean oil. It is often used as a meat analogue or meat extender. One time I introduced this to a buffet menu in one of the hotels I worked. An aggressive vegetarian lady turned up with a piled pate of soya and claimed she had beef on a misguided food tag. Standing next to those sharp carving knives I thought it’s going to be the last day in my life. I forget all the six senses explained above. And the seventh sense called in me Helpppp…. It took an hour for me to convince her it’s vegetarian.


Preparation time – 20 minutes

Cooking time – 20 minutes

Serves -4


Soya chunks – 50 grams

Oil for frying

For the batter

Corn flour – 2 tbsp

Plain flour – 1 tbsp

kashmiri chilli powder or mild paprika – ½ tsp

Ground black pepper powder – ½ tsp

Garlic and ginger paste – 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Vinegar – 1 tbsp

Water – 3 tbsp


For the sauce

Vegetable oil – 2 tbsp

1 green chilli  (to taste)

Garlic finely chopped – 5 cloves

Ginger finely chopped – ½”

Green, red and yellow  pepper diced – 1 cup

Onion diced – ½ a cup

1 tbsp chilli garlic sauce

3 tbsp soya sauce

2 tbsp tomato ketchup

50ml water

1 tsp corn flour mixed with 2 tsp of water

Salt to taste


  • Soak the soya in water for 15 minutes
  • Wash, strain and squeeze out the water from soya and keep aside in a bowl.
  • Heat oil in a wide sauce pan. In a mixing bowl add the corn flour, plain flour, chilli powder, black pepper and ginger garlic paste along with the salt. Add the vinegar and water; mix to make a thick batter. Add the soya chunks to it and mix well coating all the pieces with the batter.
  • Fry the soya chunks in the hot oil in batches for 1-2 minutes. They should have a slight colour all over. Drain the soya on kitchen paper and set aside.

To make the sauce.

  • Heat the vegetable oil in a wok on a medium heat.
  • Add the green chilli, chopped garlic and chopped ginger.
  • Fry for 10 seconds and add the peppers along with the red onions. Sauté for 1-2minutes until they begin to soften.
  • Add the chilli garlic sauce, tomato ketchup and the soya sauce & stir well.
  • Add the water and bring to a boil and simmer for a 1minute on a low heat.
  • Add the corn flour water mix, season to taste and simmer for a further 2 minutes as it begins to thicken.add the fried soya and mix
  • Your stir fried soya chunks is ready to serve with either rice or noodles.soya-5





107 thoughts on “Sixth sense of a chef!! (Stir fried soya chunks)

  1. I think your posting on ‘false pretences’ Sumith – Common sense… mmm – think that just flew out of the window with this post.. Now you have 2 women ready to hit your jugular with those VERY sharp knives.. Sibil and the Vegetarian lady – haha.. I think you’ve ‘lost your senses’… Get that tent ready – I’ve got one you can borrow if required! … I hope you survive to post another day… Yikes – wouldn’t want to be in your shoes later!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sumith, it’s a very interesting post, especially for the about senses. Kinaesthesia is a new term that I knew from you. We often use our five senses in cooking. But, that sixth sense is amazing. I saw it in my mother to some extent. After reading your post first time I realized it . will tell it to my Mom.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very nice write up talking about the six senses of cooking. Yes it is a fact that sound, taste and …… important and the sixth sense ….. I think chef’s like you can handle the time constraint more efficiently than we home cooks. Accept it. But hopefully you didn’t get the chance to setup the tent in your garden.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Meena. Cooking at home is fun. No decorator decorate his house. With this blog my sweet heart eat like a Queen😂😃😂she should be thankful to WordPress!! Some times we never thought of how we really enjoy our food. An example for touch sense – when you dine, your feel of the glass ware, feel of the plate ware, weight of the cutlery. These all are the minute things we have never noticed in ourself when we enjoy food. My next post is on touch sense in cooking and eating food!! In between some body has warned me, winter is on its way, don’t take any chance😂😄 Have a great day!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Another well written article Sumith – you wrote from my heart. Concerning smells and Spices, we spent hours in Mattancherry/Fort Cochin yesterday shopping for spices and other items for my kitchen. I love the smell – huge sacks full of delicious colourful spices ect. PS, you don’t really want a second tent ,- winter is knocking on the door,.😀😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Carina, thank you for taking me though that Jew streets in Mattanchery. I can smell that aroma of spices. Between from your photo of Taj Wellington island, was the place I get hatched in hotel industry. My first industrial training I have done it there in that hotel. Yes, it’s better to be behaved, than a frost in the winter😂😄


  5. Delectable presentation. I tried making something like this last night for dinner. I had all the right ingredients but forgot the salt until the last minute. I wish I’d seen this recipe first! Your clients and customers are so lucky to have you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I know that a good meal involves more than just our sense of taste, but I’d never thought much about hearing before. I guess it’s true, though, that the sizzle or crackle of a dish can add to the anticipation that we feel. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Utkarshani, thank you. Yes it’s a simple yet tasty recipe. To convince her I had to go to Himalayas🗻😂(walk in deep freezer!! It’s a big room keeping the temperature below-18 degree Celsius in the hotels) To fetch that packet of soya with a proof of nutritional facts😄

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This recipe is new to me. It seems 😋 after reading your post, I’ll try it in my kitchen as soon as posible. By the way before reading your post I was also thinking that It was a nonveg recipe so first I refused my self to read it just because I’m a pure vegetarian😊 but then don’t know what happened and I just started to read you post…& now I’m elated that I did right 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  8. i liked the detailing about how to cook 🙂 Btw, in the pics, there are a bunch of keys, are those keys to your kitchen ? If so, I would like to steal them 😀 I could have yummy food plus those look antique, i love antiques 🙂 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  9. yummmmy
    delicious. I remember in my childhood, when mommy used to fry soya chunks before making the curry, I always picked most of them and ate after sprinkling common salt on it.
    Amazing blog. and I can imagine cooking this recipe while I am reading to this.

    Liked by 1 person

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